Converge is an interview game show where the biggest personalities in tech come on to tell us about their wildest dreams. It’s a show that’s easy to win, but not impossible to lose — because, in the final round, I finally get a chance to play and score a few points of my own.
On the premiere episode of Converge, Houseparty co-founder and chief operating officer Sima Sistani comes on to tell us about her big idea: Tupperware parties for marijuana — or, as she puts it, “Stella & Dot for pot.” With weed becoming legal in more states, people are curious about what they might enjoy. If you don’t feel comfortable visiting a dispensary, maybe you’d prefer to bring an expert to your house, along with some samples for you and your friends?
Sistani makes a solid case. She also tells us about her experience building Houseparty, a group video chat app that became so popular with young people that Facebook cloned it into a new app called Bonfire. Along the way, she discusses the challenges of parenting in the age of social media and asks me to choose between Black Panther and Wonder Woman, which is deeply unfair.
You can read a partial, lightly edited transcript with Sima below.
Sima Sistani: My big idea is Stella and Dot for Pot.
So, explain to us what that means.
So basically what it means is, obviously, we’ve legalized marijuana in California. And, someone, like myself, who is a little more on the straight and narrow… arrow… straight arrow.
A straight arrow, on the straight and narrow.
But, basically, I feel like that it has the stigma, and the way to take the stigma away is remove the dealer. Right? Have the hostess. You bring her, it’s like a Tupperware party. You can invite her over, except the Tupperware has brownies in it.
So, for those of us who don’t know what Stella and Dot is, help us understand.
They’re basically a retailer, but the idea is along the lines of Mary Kay or Avon, where you invite somebody to your house, they host a party on your behalf, and your guests can walk away with buying some beautiful jewelry. And, in the same way, I think that people should be able to come over and maybe, I don’t know, partake in some chocolate-covered espresso beans that are micro-dosed with marijuana. I’ve brought up the idea a couple of times in mixed company in Menlo Park, and I get some odd [looks]. … A couple people who love it, a couple people who are wondering why I’m allowed to have children.
But I really think that if you applied that same business model, that you could bring something to the masses in a safe way. And, frankly, you don’t wake up with a hangover, and it’s just as good of a nightcap as a glass of wine. So, why not?
This past Saturday night, I was walking by one of the dispensaries, which is sort of one of the nicer, fancy, luxury dispensaries, near The Castro, and it almost had a nightclub vibe. But I’m also somebody who has not traditionally been a marijuana user. And even just the idea of walking inside, I’m thinking, “What happens to the security camera footage? Does that get sent directly to Jeff Sessions? Right?” I have other friends who are still going to these dispensaries, but they’re like paying cash only because they don’t want there to be a paper trail. So, I do think the idea of bringing someone into your home and having a party, maybe makes people feel a little bit more comfortable.
And it’s somebody you know, right? It’s the soccer coach or it’s your neighbor, and it’s a fun way to host a party. Ultimately, I feel like that, to me, was the hurdle of Mary Jane, if you will. I was like, “I’m not going to deal with some shady person.” But, the first time I ordered Eaze, even then, I was like, “Well, who’s the person who’s coming to my house?”
That’s a great question.
I didn’t put in my home address. I went and met them at a different location — and it was this nice lady. That’s when I had the idea, and I was like, “Wait a second. If this lady came to my house, gave people these chocolate-covered espresso beans, and these balms that you can put on your sore knees and back, that would be fun.”
I’m really interested in the feedback that I’m going to get from my bosses, when they hear that, in one of our episodes, we encouraged people to do drugs. So, that’s going to be a fun conversation that I’m going to have.
And we’re drinking. This is going downhill, Casey. I’m really sorry.